Genesis 37:1-38:30; Matthew 12:22-45; Psalm 16:1-11; Proverbs 3:27-32
Sometimes the Bible can
be, well, a little disturbing. I don't know which passage of scripture I read
today most disturbing. Is it the part where a man's own brothers beat him up,
plot to kill him, but sell him into slavery instead? Or maybe it's where a
father-in-law unknowingly sleeps with his daughter-in-law, thinking she is a
prostitute, and she becomes pregnant? Or it is the part when Jesus heals a man
who is blind and mute and the observers contribute this good work to the work
of Satan? All this passages of Scripture are a little hard to read. Why are
they included in the Bible and given such detail? Sometimes I think it's just
so we know the Bible is real and historically preserved. I mean, who would make
this stuff up and then expect people to believe and follow?
When we finally get to Psalm 16, it's like a breath of fresh air. Ah, at last, something cheerful
and "edifying." But for me, the real pivot point of all these
passages is Jesus' statement in Matthew 12:34-35 in which he says, "For
out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good
things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things
out of the evil stored up in him." We see this played out in all the
different scenes in today's Scripture readings.
First, Joseph's brothers
are discontented and ungrateful in their hearts. They feel second-best, tossed
aside, disregarded by their father. They aren't getting their due in their own
minds. They are jealous of the gifts of the father to another. So they
grumble and complain and plot evil in their hearts. The ingratitude and
resentment overflows out in their actions. Second, we see Judah refusing to
trust God and taking matters into his own hands. He worries in his mind that his last
son may die too. He makes, as Scripture seems to indicate, the unrighteous
choice. He lets worry and fear dictate his choices. Third, the Pharisees don't
want Jesus to come in and disrupt the way of life they have always known, so
they try to find ways of explaining away the power of Jesus. Their desire for
control blinds them to the life changing power of Jesus. Finally, in Psalms, we see David's heart of gratitude and contentment. His "heart is
glad and [his] tongue rejoices" (Ps. 16:9); he is filled with joy in the presence of
"Out of the
overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." What is coming out of my
mouth, my actions? What is the fruit by which my tree is recognized?
Is it discontentment, jealousy, complaining, grumbling, controlling, anxious thought,
or blindness to the truth of God's power? What comes out of me is always
a good barometer of what's going on inside. When the yelling at the kids
seems to be more frequent, when I find myself brooding over the places I don't get
what I "deserve," when I just seem out of sorts with the world around
me, I need to look at my heart. More importantly, I need to stop what I'm
doing, and spend time with Jesus, reorienting to the truth of who he is, who I
am, and who he's called me to be to others. I need to cultivate a heart of
gratitude and thankfulness.
Holy Spirit, fill me
from my inside so that more of you flows out of me each day.
- Mary Matthias
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